Zooming without the visuals

We're only halfway through January, or about 3.8% of 2022 as I pen this, but I have already read several articles about the likelihood of the COVID-19 pandemic becoming an endemic – i.e. a disease that we live alongside like a flu – this year. I can't wait for the pandemic to be over!

In the last column of 2021, I wrote: "Frequent use of video chat apps like Duo and FaceTime, or attending Zoom events, stimulates our sense of 'seeing' and combined with 'hearing' can help isolation and loneliness from setting in." When isolation and loneliness are kept at bay even with the current physical distancing recommendations, I believe we also maintain "connectedness" to our family, friends, and the community.

Although the above implies that stimulating two senses is better than one, not everyone who wants to participate in a Zoom meeting has a device with a display to see other meeting participants and a selfie camera to show oneself to others (aka "webcam" when it comes to the device of choice being personal computers), stimulating even one sense (hearing) is better than stimulating neither when it comes to maintaining a high level of connectedness.

Yes, you can just call into a Zoom meeting from a telephone if that is the only device you own or your device lacks a microphone and a speaker. Just ask the Zoom meeting organizer for a Zoom dial-in number, meeting ID, participant ID (optional), and a passcode in advance.

There are many other reasons where dialing into a Zoom meeting may be necessary. For example you may be driving but still need to actively participate in a Zoom meeting to provide your inputs to an important ongoing project so the only way to participate safely while driving is by dialing in. Many churches, for example, live stream – i.e. broadcast over the internet – their Sunday services to keep their members safe from COVID-19 infections. Calling into a Zoom meeting to listen to the sermon or the choir may be just what the doctor ordered for maintaining your spiritual sustenance. 

FYI, even when you Zoom from a device with a selfie camera, microphone, and speakers, you can mute your video so others can't see you and/or mute your microphone so others can't hear you. Through the device's speakers, you can listen in to what other participants are saying and follow along with the Zoom meeting you have joined.

Zoom and other video chat apps, aka virtual meeting apps, can be thought of as a telephone conference bridge of yesteryear on steroids. The "steroids" are the visuals, namely the virtual meeting participants and whatever the host decides to share visually, that makes it powerful as a digital world tool. Again, remember that you can join a Zoom meeting, listen in, and participate in the meeting with only a telephone, flip-phone, cell phone, or a home phone. Happy Zooming everyone!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 10:06 AM, 01.18.2022